Tennessee to host first- and second-round NCAA women's tournament games

Tennessee's Bashaara Graves drills during practice at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. 
  
 (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Photo by Saul Young, 2013 Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee's Bashaara Graves drills during practice at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Tennessee’s NCAA tournament road will begin at Thompson-Boling Arena next March. But the regional routes to the Women’s Final Four in Nashville will pass through the home courts of four other teams.

Notre Dame, Stanford, Louisville and Nebraska will host the regionals this season. The women’s basketball committee decided over the summer to allow schools to host the regionals for the first time in nearly a decade, with the thought it could increase attendance.

Like last season, Tennessee will be one of 16 sites hosting first- and second-round tournament games. UT is 52-0 at home in NCAA play.

Other campus sites that were chosen to host the first two rounds, which begin March 22, were UConn, Iowa State, LSU, North Carolina, Maryland, Texas A&M, Duke, Iowa, Kentucky, UCLA, Washington, Toledo, Penn State, Baylor and Purdue.

The Lady Vols have been outspoken in their desire to return to the Final Four for the first time since 2008 and compete for the program’s ninth national championship. They’re coined the phrase “Grind for 9.”

Tennessee has lost in the Elite Eight the past three seasons but all three games were played at neutral sites: Oklahoma City last season, Des Moines in 2012 and Dayton in 2011.

All four schools hosting regionals this season have had impressive success at home. Stanford boasts a 92-2 mark at Maples Pavilion since the start of the 2007-08 season. Notre Dame is 85-11 at home during that same span. Louisville and Nebraska each have won 81 percent of their home games over the past six years.

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Comments » 1

johnlg00 writes:

If all four of those regional host teams are seeded in their own regions, the LVs face a MAJOR stumbling block on their way to Nashville for the Final Four. One would think that Nebraska would be the least-likely of those to both survive to the regional and successfully defend their home court, but you never know. The LVs had better hope they come together well enough to be able to beat ANYBODY on their home court, but this will be a HUGE challenge for a team that will likely have at least three freshmen in their regular rotation.

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